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Summary:

Electric vehicle infrastructure company Better Place chose Yokohama, Japan, to show off its first — and the world’s first — battery swapping station. Now the startup is planning to work with the Japanese government to build a pilot project in Tokyo that will create the world’s […]

betterplace1Electric vehicle infrastructure company Better Place chose Yokohama, Japan, to show off its first — and the world’s first — battery swapping station. Now the startup is planning to work with the Japanese government to build a pilot project in Tokyo that will create the world’s first electric taxi fleet with swappable batteries.

Better Place is partnering with Tokyo’s largest taxi company, Nihon Kotsu, for the pilot and will be building a swappable battery station (like the one in Yokohama) in the Roppongi Hills area in Tokyo. The project is supposed to start in January 2010.

There are a couple reasons why this is an interesting deal for Better Place. First off, Tokyo is often the purveyor of “cool” and advanced technology, and services and products that gain acceptance in Toyko often find their way to other parts of the world. The city has become a good test bed for technology because it’s filled with a lot of people, not much space, a lot of disposable income, and an unusually high level of attention to electronics and gadgets. While the Better Place Tokyo taxi deal will have to impress the taxi owners first, if it’s successful, it could mean a more consumer-targeted push in Tokyo in the future.

The other benefit of this deal is that Better Place gets to test out its system in a fleet. Tokyo taxis will give the Better Place cars, batteries and battery swap stations a run for their money — far more than the average car user would. That will enable Better Place to test the battery range, the IT networks and the location of the battery swap station in a much faster manner.

While I’m still skeptical of Better Place making a major push in large cities and sprawling areas of the U.S., specific deals like this in certain locations give me hope that the idea behind Better Place could have legs.

  1. What to read on the GigaOM network Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    [...] | Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | 10:33 AM PT | 0 comments An Android-Based VoIP phone (OStatic) Better Place targets Tokyo taxis (Earth2Tech) Windows 7 hurts netbook battery life? Maybe not entirely — or at all (jkOnTheRun) [...]

  2. Felipe Rodrigues Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Heavy using will be a good testbed for betterplace, not only for battery life/range but also for the effectiveness of its infrastructure.Keep in mind that Betterplace in not only as new business model, but maybe even an energy repository!

  3. Tokyo taxis to go electric – 845th Edition | My Low Carbon Home Sunday, August 30, 2009

    [...] viaEarth2Tech [...]

  4. Green Design » Blog Archive » Worldchanging Update: Better Place Targets Tokyo Taxis Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    [...] We’ve written before about California start-up Better Place’s plan to build a network of battery swapping stations and standardized EVs, including its scheduled $1 billion project in the San Francisco Bay Area. As of January 2010, Better Place is taking on the Tokyo taxicab. Partnering with the cities’ largest taxi company, Niho Kotsu, they will create the first all-electric fleet in the world, complete with a battery swapping station in the Roppongi Hills. Founder Shai Agassi’s plan is to supply cheaper EVs and generate profit by selling power-up time much like cell-phone companies sell minutes (you can even pick your plan; unlimited mileage, monthly allowances, or pay-as-you-go). Battery stations will then allow drivers to swap out their standardized, used batteries for fully-charged ones in under 5 minutes. It’s like going to the gas station without the guilt — especially if Better Place employs renewable energy and becomes part of a smart-grid system. Testing out this system in the high volume Tokyo taxi market is an important step in Better Place’s long-term vision, as Earth2Tech’s Katie Fehrenbacher explains: [...]

  5. Worldchanging Update: Better Place Targets Tokyo Taxis | test title Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    [...] Testing out this system in the high volume Tokyo taxi market is an important step in Better Place’s long-term vision, as Earth2Tech’s Katie Fehrenbacher explains: [...]

  6. Worldchanging Update: Better Place Targets Tokyo Taxis – Go Green – SustainLane Saturday, September 26, 2009

    [...] in the high volume Tokyo taxi market is an important step in Better Place’s long-term vision, as Earth2Tech’s Katie Fehrenbacher explains:First off, Tokyo is often the purveyor of “cool” and advanced technology, and services and [...]

  7. Vozy taxi na elektrický pohon v centru Tokia | Eastbound.cz Sunday, February 21, 2010

    [...] Earth2tech.com: Better Place Targets Tokyo Taxis [...]

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